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VOL. 126 | NO. 45 | Monday, March 07, 2011



Chilean Pinot Noir Faithful to French Ideal

FREDRIC KOEPPEL | Special to The Memphis News

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We want wine to be authentic; we want wine to reflect its locality. Sometimes I find these elements to be in conflict in a bottle of wine, and sometimes they exist harmoniously. Just because Burgundy, that tiny area in eastern-central France is the Ur-Goddess-Grail-Ultimate home of the pinor noir grape doesn’t mean that pinot noir wines made elsewhere in the world have to slavishly imitate the products of Burgundy.

On the other hand, you don’t want a pinot noir to sit there in your glass as if it were a brash and brawny syrah or a bold and ebullient zinfandel, which frequently happens in California. “Criminy,” say the winemakers, “it’s just so freakin’ hot over here, what do you expect?” I, for one, expect them to try harder.

The point is that grapes perform best when the soil, the terrain, the climatic conditions – what the French call terroir – are best suited for their character. Sure, variations are possible, even necessary, but it’s the winemaker’s responsibility to be faithful to the grape.

For Your Very Own Bottle

Joe's Liquor Store
1681 Poplar Ave., $15
Buster’s Liquors & Wines
191 S. Highland St., $15
Kirby Wine & Liquors
2865 Kirby Parkway, $15

Which brings us to the Cono Sur Visións Pinot Noir 2009, from Chile’s Colchagua Valley. Colchagua bears little resemblance, terroir-wise, to Burgundy, but the Cono Sur Visións Pinot Noir 2009 is a creditable, intriguing and tasty rendition of the grape.

The color is radiant medium ruby with a slight magenta cast. Winsome aromas of rhubarb and cranberry, iodine and peat, briars and brambles beguile the nose, while in the mouth the wine nails the grape’s ineffable lightness of being combined with a satiny texture and flavors of spiced and macerated black cherries and cranberries and a back-note of cola and cocoa powder. The wine ages six months in French oak, a device that lends structure but doesn’t dominate. The word is “Yum”; the price says “Bargain.”

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